What Is Dysautonomia
Dysautonomia is a term used to describe any autonomic nervous system disorder. It is not a diagnosis in itself but a collective cover-all term for multiple conditions affecting the autonomic nervous system.
Dysautonomia, pronounced “Dis-auto-no-mia”, is an umbrella label used to describe any of the 15 currently recognised autonomic nervous system disorders.
The autonomic nervous system is the part of the nervous system that regulates functions that are automatic in nature, meaning we have zero control over them. Some of these automated actions regulate and control heart rate, blood pressure, digestion, excretion but not urination, sweating, blinking at anything coming towards the eye, temperature regulation, pupil dilation, circulation, and breathing. All the things your body does without you consciously having any ability to control them.
The autonomic nervous system is responsible for maintaining the state of being called homeostasis. Homeostasis means the equilibrium or perfect balance of all systems in the body.
A dysfunction or failure of the autonomic nervous system results in a disorder that is classified as a type of dysautonomia.
These disorders can range from mild to debilitating and usually involve abnormal symptoms in multiple organ systems, including cardiac, gastrointestinal, neurological, and pulmonary as the major players.
Invisible But Real Medical Conditions
There are currently 15 distinct dysautonomia’s. Postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS) and neurocardiogenic syncope are the most common.
Dysautonomia is classed as an invisible illness. It may be one of the most misdiagnosed medical conditions yet to be better researched and understood. The biggest problem in autonomic medicine is the lack of knowledge and awareness about dysautonomia in the community and, more concerningly, a lack of understanding and experience in community-based healthcare professionals.
There is not yet a cure for dysautonomia. However, symptoms can be managed and treated once the condition has been correctly diagnosed.
It is important to find a local healthcare professional who is well educated in dysautonomia’s and treatment, or who is willing to become educated and work with the patient in a win-win scenario.
In-depth Topic Reading And Videos On Dysautonomia
The Ehlers-Danlos Society video:
What Is Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome
Ehlers-Danlos syndrome is a genetic condition affecting the joints, skin and walls of the blood vessels. People with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, or EDS, have very loose, hypermobile joints. Their skin is stretchy and fragile. Ehlers-Danlos syndrome can’t be treated, but the symptoms can usually be managed.
There are a few different types of EDS and they all involve extremely flexible joints and fragile skin that bruises and stretches easily. Some find their joints are so flexible that they have frequent dislocations, and this often leads to pain in the joints.
Some people with EDS have distinctive facial features such as a thin nose, thin upper lip, large eyes and ears without lobes.
Multiple System Atrophy (MSA)
Multiple System Atrophy (MSA) is a rare neurodegenerative disorder that can cause a multitude of symptoms in any combination including:
- impairments to balance,
- difficulty with movement
- poor coordination
- bladder control dysfunction
- sleep disturbances
- poor blood pressure control
- autonomic dysfunction
- blood pressure and heart rate irregularities
- excessive sweating
- orthostatic hypotension
MSA shares similarities to Parkinson’s disease. Both conditions are characterized by deposits of a type of protein known as alpha-synuclein in the nervous system. Both conditions also specifically affect cells that produce dopamine, a neurotransmitter that controls motor commands. As a result, many of the same motor dysfunctions occur in the two conditions.
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